Guest column/Beware: Predators offering help with addiction

It is no secret that access to treatment for substance abuse is not readily available for everyone that needs it. There just isn’t enough available help, and if you are dealing with addiction — yourself or someone you love and care about — you may not know where to go or how to find what you need. There are agencies that can help to get your feet on solid ground.

There are unqualified pop-up centers just looking to make a buck by selling suboxone with no treatment requirements. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids advises “what to look for and what to avoid” when you are seeking an addiction treatment program. “The current opioid epidemic has unfortunately bred a slew of unethical businesses posing as legitimate addiction treatment for those struggling with drugs and alcohol … (taking) advantage of families in crisis.”

You are frantic to get help — for you or your loved one — but you are sure that when people find out about the problem you are going to be judged and feel like an outcast. When someone comes along to offer help, you likely will be relieved that someone knows how you feel. Someone understands. Someone is going to help.

How do you know, though, that you are getting what you need and not being exploited by predators?

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides a list of how to determine if an agency is what you need:

When you look online for an agency to assist you, how easily can you find a phone number?

Is it easy to find the actual address? As you look through the information posted at the website?

Is the agency accredited? Two accreditations you might ask about are the Joint Commission Accreditation for Addiction Treatment Gold Seal for Behavioral Health or certification by Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities.

Can the agency handle co-occurring disorders? Do they provide mental health assessments? Is there an addiction physician and licensed, credentialed addiction counselors on staff?

Is the program appropriate for the age and gender of the client?

Is detox supervised around the clock by staff?

Are life-coping skills and evidence-based treatments practiced?

How is the daily schedule structured? How is it supervised? Ask to see it.

How is the family involved in the treatment and recovery process?

Is the step-down and discharge process clear? Do they provide continuing care and after-care?

Are they clear about costs, including insurance deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses?

Do they accept kickbacks for referrals? Quality programs do not.

Red flags should go up when the opposite of the above are found.

If you have a difficult time actually talking to someone at the facility or to find a brick and mortar location, you will want to be wary.

If the only staff they have are people who are, themselves, in recovery or the program is the same for everyone rather than being personalized to each client, these are reasons to reconsider the agency.

Unclear messages about the processes, hidden costs, and “high rates of success” should alert you to continue your search to find help.

(Traina is the executive director of the Family Recovery Center.)

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